What Marketing Therapy is,
and How it Can Help You.
"My name is Aileen and I really need your marketing help."
That's how this thing I call, Marketing Therapy started. The caller was struggling with her small business and, like many small business owners, she was much better at doing what she did, than marketing it. She was anxious about my helping her. Though sympathetic, I didn't know what to say. I was working long hours trying to manage my own business -- a successful Madison Avenue ad agency -- and wasn't interested in one-on-one consulting. It wasn't worth my time. But she was relentless:
"I heard you speak, I saw your site, I think you're brilliant, can you please help me?"
The woman was begging. I promised to think about it and, the next day, presented her with a rate I suspected she couldn't afford.
I was wrong.
She was grateful that I was willing to help and excited about meeting.
Like most business owners she was very emotionally wrapped up with her business. Though she clearly needed marketing help, it was also clear that there was a strong connection between her marketing and psychological issues. What I mean by that is that after a few minutes of chatting, and listening, I could see how her own fears, judgements, marketing perceptions (and misperceptions) where effecting her marketing issues. Consequently, I felt like part marketing expert, part therapist. Some years ago I received training as a phone crisis hot-line volunteer helping distressed callers get to the root of their problem. That training, I realized, came in extremely handy with Aileen. And, after a few very productive sessions, we arrived at some cost-effective, creative marketing solutions that got her business back on track. She was grateful and "Marketing Therapy" was born.
The Challenges of Marketing a Smaller Business.
Marketing is one of the most difficult challenges for a business of any size. But, due to limited funds, it's especially tough for smaller ones.
For a business with limited funds, traditional advertising is often not the best option. Besides the high expense, traditional advertising (TV, radio, print, outdoor) is often too broad for the niche market that smaller businesses will be targeting. So, though there are exceptions, it's often not the smartest, most cost-effective option.
Though "non-traditional" marketing offers a variety of more cost-effective options, it's a highly confusing landscape. For the typical small business owner, deciphering and effectively utilizing the best options can be overwhelming. Any business owner can give a talk, run a Yellow Pages ad, or create a blog. But a truly effective marketing effort is an art that takes knowledge, experience and talent.
Besides the "limited funds" issue, business owners face the added challenge of being emotionally enmeshed with their business. My experience with Aileen made that clear. The things about her business and marketing that were obvious to me were an eye-opening revelation to her. Which reinforces an important fact: Any marketing decision made with a lack of objectivity, and lack of expertise, can be a recipe for disaster. I've seen it happen many times. Because a bad marketing decision can ravage both a company's finances and their image in the marketplace.
The good news is that a business owner doesn't need to try to become a marketing expert. They just need to know they need help.
Though necessary, that admission also makes them somewhat vulnerable. That's because there's a world full of sexy, personable, highly articulate people who present themselves as marketing experts, but are really sales people pressured by their firms to sell, sell, sell. Be it The Yellow Pages or a radio station, these smooth-talking reps will act as if they have the perfect solution to your marketing and advertising problems. And they'll present all the graphs and charts to prove it. What may not occur to you is that these sales employees are more concerned about their commissions than your business. They are biased about their advice and probably know little about marketing beyond their own company-created flip charts and metrics designed to sell their particular product.
No Wonder Anyone Running a Business Needs Therapy.
Having just described the marketing challenges facing smaller businesses, it's no wonder many business owners and managers often feel like a deer-in-the-headlights when it comes to marketing. And, it's why so many opt for one of two bad options:
1) They put 90% of their effort into "chasing" (ie: selling)
and only 10% into attracting (ie: marketing). Or...
2) They do no marketing and keep praying for word-of-mouth.
Well, now there's a third option.
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